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Fundamentals of Game Animation 🎮 Feel

January 31, 2020 | Articles, Blog | 34 Comments

Fundamentals of Game Animation  🎮 Feel


hello welcome to video game animation
study today we’re continuing a miniseries looking at the five
fundamentals of video game animation as proposed by Jonathan Cooper in his book
game on him video game animation explained this episode is sponsored by
Squarespace a place to build your online presence in the last episode we covered
the five fundamentals in a general overview and lightly inspected their
relation to the existing 12 principles of animation as complementary offering a
new light onto current emotion skills in the video game industry today we’re
going to look deeper at the fundamental of feel I could lead the most important
of the five fundamentals of game animation feel is how a character
handles during gameplay and can mean the difference between sluggish unresponsive
gameplay and unrealistic detached gameplay feel directly links to the
function over form philosophy that games I think should adhere to you want to
feel in control of your character and animation that doesn’t align with this
will ultimately ruin your experience the player is going to be making different
choices on the fly so if you’re having to wait for an action to finish this is
going to lock you out of that decision-making until it’s done for
instance a bigger or stronger attack may take longer to perform than a smaller
weaker attack while if you’re looking to make everything as responsive as
possible you’ll want to avoid sacrificing the weight of a character or
the force of an action you’ll want your character to read well and feel good to
play fighting games are a classic example of where responsiveness is
important the feel of your game let’s compare my favorite fighting game
skullgirls to that of something like Soul Calibur one is sprite based and one
is 3d model based one has smaller and weaker moves that can play on Twitch
faster and one has slightly slower modes that must be tactically planned
one isn’t better than the other but they both feel different to play because of
the responsiveness of the characters another example could be when
controlling Sonic the Hedgehog or Megaman one of them takes ages to build
up to a top speed and one of them has a constant running speed from the second
you touch your control one of the jewelry’s when controlling these
characters is the different skill involved from knowing the inertia and
momentum of a character you know that you can control Megaman down to the
exact pixel and change his direction midair multiple times
whereas with Sonic you know you can do a little run up to gain some extra height
to get to a new platform let’s take a look at Batman from Arkham Knight now
Batman is a tough brute his large frame he wears armor has got lots of gadgets
readily at his disposal but he’s still relatively responsive and fast moving
the responsiveness of his moves are probably most apparent when you’re in
the middle of a brawl the Arkham series free flow combat system is something
that feels subjectively satisfying to take part in you can tap a variety of
buttons for a variety of attacks and dodges and you’ll generally punch the
nearest enemy no matter how far away they are or which direction you’re
facing there’s a complex system of rigs and rules that decides which animation
pose Batman or a part of Batman will need to be in depending on if near an
enemy which direction they’re in and what attack is going to do this can feel
great to play you might occasionally get this little
sliding around happening but it’s debatable whether it’s detrimental to
your enjoyment of the gameplay because Batman is still in your control you
could complement this with Marvel spider-man which uses that same free
flow combat system spider-man is very light in slender when
compared to Batman but he still fits this style of combat
you’ve got more opportunities for a bit of a meanness to allowing moves such as
zipping across with enemy with your web shot and staying up in the air while you
pull up a thug to smack him around a bit free flow combat works well in both
these games and only slight adjustment is needed to alter the feel of the
character but what’s important is that you build up a kind of trust of that
character you know that if you make a mistake it’s generally because you
haven’t controlled that character well enough it feels good to be able to
control a character with all these varying possibilities to a fine
precision that’s some good animation think about this though in Batman you
can control the Dark Knight himself and you can control his banner bill but you
can control it in car form or in tank form with both having different controls
and different feeling when playing some games have many variants of what you’d
feel good to play the bat tank should feel heavier and more precise because it
needs to move around and 360 degrees and be able to dodge and shoot whereas the
car should feel like it can escape quickly and be able to turn corners in
the way you’d expect a car to in other games like GTA and the fact you can
switch from car to tank in a second is something they’ll need careful
consideration when designing how responsive these elements will feel
let’s look at this transformation in Yoshi’s Island there isn’t a run button
but you do often take while to build up to running speaking however when you
turn into a helicopter your controls were much more drawn-out turning and
even staying up requires an extended press for button for the desired action
to finally come to pass this feels massively sluggish compared
to when you control Yoshi but this isn’t necessarily bad because this is adding
an element of challenge to a stage you’ll probably need to get to grips
with how this feels to control but once you’ve got it then you just need to
perfect it it’d be a different issue if the entire game controlled like this but
because it’s a minor gameplay gimmick it’s being designed with challenge in
mind additional animation tricks can be used to aid the feel of a character such
as follow-through and multiples for a big action if a big or slow action is
taking place it might help the player still feel in control of a character if
there’s some visual feedback before the action takes place perhaps if your
character is turning and it will feel weird and unrealistic if they’re able to
turn around from a fast movement really quickly then you can add in a bit which
shows them looking to where they need to go just so it doesn’t feel that the
action itself is sluggish or unresponsive other feedback tricks
include camera shakes and frame holds on impact or actions such as landing a
heavy hit or taking damage there’s no right or wrong way of applying field
into your character the game will feel how you want it to it’s very much like
the traditional animation principle of appeal in that it’s a difficult thing to
measure and teach the feel is an important thing to nail down first
because how your game feels to play will be how much your audience enjoys playing
it and likely how much they’ll remember it I’ve mentioned in my HoloNet video
that team cherry wanted to nail down how it felt to jump before anything else and
based the rest of the movement around that perfected action
and Halle Knight is a game that’s often remembered for feeling good to play
here’s a nice story just to tie this fundamental up as fancy as the
animations are the developers of Streets of Rage 4 are trying to match the feel
of the gameplay to that of the original Mega Drive games and they achieve this
by literally playing the two games side-by-side and until they fill the
same something as nostalgic a Streets of Rage is right for scrutiny and as such
nailing that feeling is important for fans of the series and animation will
come second to gameplay because of that of course that doesn’t mean you can’t
add some fantastic visual flair to the animations around that gameplay feel now
I look forward to playing you and that is the fundamental of feel thanks to
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and you’re looking for them then professional-looking websites then go on
right ahead and click that link in my description just there I know you see
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mean literally you can organize everything easily you’ve got a whole
load of tools that enable you to share things that the platform’s tech
donations and so your analytical data and it looks professional to it which
really helps if you want to impress a potential employer so use my link in the
description to start a free trial to check Squarespace out for yourself and
when you’re ready to launch use my coupon code for 10% off your first
purchase for a website automate okay random patron shoutout Aaron s Aaron s I
like it sounds like some sort of DJ or music remix artist catch you next time
love you bye

The Five Fundamentals of Game Animation: An Introduction


Hello, welcome to video game animation study. This channel studies animation in video games,
and to kick off 2020, we’re gonna look at the five fundamentals
of video game animation in this new mini-series. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace,
the all-in-one platform to build your online presence. The actual medium of animation has been around
for well over a hundred years. The first use of CGI in animation could be
attributed to a number of pieces dating back to the 70s, 60s and even 50s. The first use of stop motion and hand drawn
animation stems to the early 1900s, and even the zoetrope and associated devices
date back to the 1800s. But video game animation is still relatively
new, and evolving all the time. Techniques and processes are always dictated
by the limitations of the host technology, which is why we had limited frame use during
the 8-bit era of video games, for example. And as techniques and processes are enhanced
and refined, so to are the outcomes. The 12 Principles of Animation are the animator’s
toolkit for creating convincing, coherent and appealing movement. My buddy Dan has begun this study within video
games over on his channel so you should check that out, and there’s
lots of information on the 12 Principles out there generally, and while all animation generally adheres
to most of these rules, video game animation is a little different. No longer is a story told in a linear fashion
beyond your control. Video games offer the opportunity to play
the story at your own pace in your own order, And so the visual identity of the medium must
adapt. Animated storytelling, for the most part of
the 20th century, followed the format of traditional film storytelling. Actions are planned ahead, your camera must
consider the clarity of your storytelling etc. But as the confines of linearity are expanded,
so are the principles that shape them. A camera in a 3D game no longer works how
it would in TV or film, it’s free roaming as opposed to fixed or planned. Since the popularity of the video game industry
has grown, animators and developers have always had in
their minds their own set of rules for animating in games. For instance, there’s an art to making a
character loop nicely in their idle pose, something you probably wouldn’t worry too
much about in a TV series or a film. You might rewatch your favourite animated
film over and over, but it’ll never match the amount of times
you might punch in Street Fighter over and over, so you have to think about how elegant and
efficient your animation is going to look, and from all angles, too! And now, for the first time, all these unspoken
rules and guides are coming together in the same way the 12 Principles did in The
Illusion of Life. Jonathan Cooper is the author of the book
Game Anim: Video Game Animation Explained, And from his experience animating and leading
on games such as Uncharted, Mass Effect, Assassin’s Creed and The Last of Us, he has collated many modern techniques and
practices over the past 20 years into a single idea which compliments The 12 Principles, which
he has termed: The Five Fundamentals of Video Game Animation. This introductory episode will act as an overview
of these fundamentals, with following episodes going into more detail on each. Firstly, let’s look at Feel. The difference between a game and a film is
the interactivity. Jonathan Cooper posits that an animator should
relinquish authorship of an animation, lest it interfere with the interactivity. This means that no matter how good you want
an animation to look for a move, you should be prepared to scrap some or all
of it for the sake of better control. The fine balance you have to perfect is the
difference between a character feeling sluggish and a character feeling unrealistic. Some characters might take a while to turn
on the spot, while some might flip instantly with no inertia. This affects how the character feels to play. A big punch and a small punch will feel different,
turning a corner fast and slowly will feel different. This is Feel. Next, it’s Fluidity. Fluidity, which I’ve touched upon briefly
before, is how smoothly and coherently different actions blend together. It is the art of transition, removing and
reducing as best you can, as Jonathan puts it, any “unsightly movements” between different
actions that might “give away” the magic. It’s much easier to achieve this with programmable
maths in a 3D rig than it is with separate sprite animations in a 2D game. Going from idle to run, for example, could
look like this, or it could look like this. One of them is easier on the eye and likely
to immerse you more, but be careful you don’t ruin the feel. This is Fluidity. Let’s look at Readability. This is how your action reads on screen, and
is a close relative to the classic Staging Principle. While you may have control of your character,
the camera, in many cases, is independent and will fly around at all
sorts of angles, so a video game animator’s job, more so
in 3D games, is to ensure an action is identifiable and clear from any angle. You have to ensure your action is interesting
and doesn’t just move in one particular direction, but give it some texture by having varying
movements in different directions at once. This is readability. And now Context. This relates to where and how an animation
will be used in your game. Quite often, an animator won’t know when
an animation will be used by a character, or multiple characters, unless it’s a very
specific animation for a scene or character. For instance, all three characters in GTA5
generally have the exact same movement, as far as I can tell. There’s no real distinction between their
personalities, even though they’re all quite different. This is different to, say, Batman in the Arkham
games. You’re going to be controlling only Batman,
so you can have specific nuances and quirks that will apply only to Batman. Batman’s walk wouldn’t really work with
Catwoman, and vice versa. NPCs will often have animation that’s not
going to be seen as much by the player when compared to the player character, so
this is something to consider when designing an action for a character. And you have to consider how close to the
game camera that a character will be, with far away moves given a bit more exaggeration
to make them more readable, and more subtle movements restrained for cutscenes. And lastly Elegance. As the name suggests, this is how elegant
animations all look when working together. This is an idea that applies to design in
general, and not just to game animation. But in this case, it relates to the efficiency
of an action, and the animation systems in place that bring
different animations together. This can relate to the overall production
of the game and how this will affect workflow later in the project, especially when you need to change something
easily. Elegance can be about thinking smart. Jonathan gives an example where if your character
has to interact with a lot of objects in a game, then making the objects all a similar size
will allow you to make a more generic animation to save cost on lots of different animations. However, if your game is about interacting
with different objects, then it might be wise to invest a little more
into unique actions for varying objects. Or, if you have an action for opening a door,
can this be adapted for other things with a little tweaking to the animation? It’s all about being clever and efficient,
and avoiding having your workload being bloated. This will depend entirely on the content,
substance and budget of your game though. This is elegance. And these are the Five Fundamentals. They’re there to compliment the original
12 principles, to help shine a new light on animation techniques
that require a different line of thinking in video game production. The following five episodes will go into more
detail on each of these fundamentals, so do the thing if you wanna be in the loop. You can buy Jonathan Cooper’s book Game
Anim which is out now, you can check out his twitter or his website, it’s full of lots of different things to
do with animation in the video game industry, I thoroughly recommend it if you’re looking
to get into this career, and I also recommend this video by New Frame
Plus. Ooh, before I go: If you’re an animator or creative mind,
and you’re like me and your only experience of web development was editing CSS code on
MySpace back in 2005, then go on right ahead and click that link
in my description just there, and make the most of my Squarespace offer. I know you see it a lot of it around, but
having a Squarespace website is pretty neat. I mean, literally. You can organise everything so easily and
you’ve got a whole load of tools that enable you to share things to other platforms, take
donations, see your analytical data. And it looks professional. Which really helps
if you wanna impress potential employers and such, especially if you’re trying to get
into a big industry! So use my link in the description to start
a free trial to check Squarespace out for yourself, and when you’re ready to launch use my coupon
code for 10% off your first purchase for a website or domain. Okay thanks to my patrons and thanks to Squarespace. Random patron shout-out Silentbun. Thanks,
you quiet rabbit, you! Loveyoubye!

How Trico Was Animated  /  Video Game Animation Study


The Last Guardian is the third game in a spiritual
trilogy directed by Fumito Ueda, formerly of Team Ico, who developed the games
Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, and is now part of GenDesign. The game is about a boy who befriends and
eventually commands a large fictional part-bird, part-cat/dog creature called Trico through a ruined, castle-like maze. One of the gimmicks is that Trico can act
independently while also obeying instructions, and that you must train Trico to listen to
you in order to solve puzzles and explore the environment. It feels like a combination of both Ico and
Shadow of the Colossus. One of the challenges the production team
faced was creating convincing movement for Trico as it freely explored the environment. And I think it’s safe to say they pulled
off a visual delight with the creature. Let’s take a quick look at how they achieved
Trico’s animation! Much of this information comes from a Japanese
presentation by GenDesign which was translated by Twitter user @brando_themando
for Jonathon Cooper’s Game Anim website, which is where I found it all, and Jonathon
Cooper’s Game Anim book, which I recommend you check out. So I’ll list my sources in the description
below if you want to learn a bit more about The Last Guardian’s development. Despite the realistic motion of Trico, no
motion capture was involved in the animation process. Instead, the team spent some time deciding
which creature they’d take influence from in order to mimic its movement, and fill in any gaps in information with procedural
animation, but we’ll come to that in a bit. They started with a cat as a reference point
for the majority of movements, stating that people around the world love
cats, even if they don’t always listen to you, and it was also a good reference point for
having their own creature climb up high structures and squeeze into tight spots. Other animal movements were used depending
on the action Trico performed, and this is why motion capture would have
been difficult to implement with the animation process. They then thought about the sense of scale
and size. Scaling up the movements of a cat to the size
they wanted wouldn’t have been as convincing, so they looked at big cats like tigers and
how they moved to give a more realistic sense of scale. The end result was movement that didn’t
reference one single existing creature, instead using a collection of different movements
that created something familiar but fantastical and new. But that wasn’t where it ended. There’s something very realistic about the
movements of Trico. As a character, it feels very alive. This is where the team’s use of Procedural
Animation came in. Procedural Animation is producing motion in
real-time using in-game calculations. You’ll often see this in games where a character’s
limb or appendage automatically connects to a surface. The boy does this himself when he’s near
a wall or surface. This type of calculation is called inverse
kinematics, and it’s a bit difficult for me to explain
technically, but it very basically ensures that the joints of a skeletal frame move correctly
and allows correct connections between characters and their environments. This procedural animation is what allows Trico
to explore its environment naturally. The animators will have programmed a walking
motion into Trico, which would work well on a flat terrain, but
animating that same motion on varying levels of terrain would be incredibly laborious and time consuming, By adding procedural animation, this allows
that same movement to happen on a different terrain and still stay close to the original key pose,
and thus look “correct”. So if Trico has to step over a broken pillar
or something, he’ll still have that same walk cycle, but
whichever paw lands on the obstruction, it’ll step onto it instead of clipping through
it, and it won’t affect the other paws or the overall motion. This results in a very natural action. If you look closely, you can often make out
each part of Trico that’s being mathematically controlled depending how it’s standing, where it is
and what it needs to do next. The next part of making Trico feel alive was
adding artificial intelligence. For instance, Trico would often be interested
in something, and move to that interest, and then react
to it accordingly. But objects of interest were based on priority,
with Trico paying more attention to high priority objects first, and then directing attention to the interest
that’s next in line. This is what gives Trico its apparent natural
inquisitiveness to its surroundings. The environment was a big factor as to how
Trico would react to interests. For instance, if there’s a barrel, then
Trico will choose how to get to it and then eat it. If there’s not enough space, then Trico
would think of a way to get at it. If it got stuck trying to reach it, then it’d
ask for help from the boy. The actual action of looking at a point of
interest is literally called ‘look-at’, which is linked to inverse kinematics. Particularly for Trico, the designers felt
that simply moving and rotating his neck and head to look at something gave a somewhat robotic feel, and added in
a method which fixed the head position, followed by the neck, which they called “lion-dance
control”, which references some real world animals that
can control their bodies while keeping their head still. The designers felt this added a bit more realism. Corrective action was another form of calculation
that kept Trico feeling real. If it’s line of sight to the point of interest
is obscured or altered then it’ll readjust its body to a sturdy
and realistic position so it can observe the object clearly again. Making calculations within the model frame
of how to move the body while referencing as closely as possible the original key pose. Generally, Trico’s AI involved identifying
a point of interest, how to get to the point of interest, and then
making a decision about the point of interest, and the procedural animation built into the
motions surrounding those choices added to Trico’s realism. But the reason Trico felt so real wasn’t
just because of his artificial intelligence and procedural animation. Calculated movements can only do so much, they can’t replicate or produce strong,
interesting poses. The corrective calculations which gave Trico
realistic movement would only work if there’s manually animated keyframes to
begin with. Each new calculation regarding the environment
still has to stick realistically to the key pose that’s been manually animated into Trico. The magic bringing Trico to life was a complex
mixture of artificial intelligence, procedural animation, and good old fashioned animation by hand, using real world animals as reference points
to create strong dynamic key poses. We leave the game remembering Trico as a character
much more because of this multilayered production into his movement. And that is how Trico was animated. Thanks for watching this one, and thanks to
my patrons for funding this episode. Let’s pick one….Ben Williams, thanks mate. Good name, I like the double L in your surname
there, and I like the ‘B’ in BEN. It’s good. Okay, have a great festive period everyone,
and see you in the new year! Loveyoubye!